New DNA Test Could Help Solve 14-Year-Old Fr. Kunz Murder

Detectives hope new DNA analysis can help solve the 14-year-old murder of Father Alfred Kunz.

On March 4, 1998, a killer cut Kunz's throat in the hallway of St. Michael Church in the Town of Dane near Lodi. Although detectives have a series of leads and several suspects, they have never had enough information to make an arrest.

Now evidence from the case is being reprocessed at the state crime lab in Madison. DNA analysts sampled some evidence back in 1998, but now they can go a step further.

"We can in theory go down to as little as 5 cells and get a DNA profile," said Lab Manager Amy Beatty. "Anything that had a visible blood stain or a visible stain on it in the late 90's they were able to do that sort of analysis, the difference is we don't need a visible stain anymore."

Analysts can now process touch DNA. Anything the killer may have contacted could hold an identifiable sample. Detectives say their may have been a struggle between Kunz and the killer, increasing their optimism that there was a DNA transfer.

The new tests are expected to be completed in the next couple of months.

"If we're able to have the crime lab develop something where the killer touched something and now it will link that person to the crime it will be so huge for us," said Dane County Sheriff's Office Det. Linda Pederson-Honer, who worked the case its first year.

Officials credit new automation technology and more staff with the ability to take a closer look at older cases. A few years ago the DNA lab had a case backlog more than a year long, now cases are usually processed in about 60 days despite more than five times the caseload.

"We're processing right now some 450 cases per month," said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who acknowledges even with a DNA breakthrough an old case could be tough to try.

"We have some people we may not be able to locate anymore who may be witnesses, people may be deceased already, of course peoples' memories fade," he said.

Packed and stored in ideal conditions, DNA evidence can last longer than 20 years.

If new DNA profiles are discovered, detectives plan to try and match them against samples they collected 14 years ago or a national database. They also hope people of interest are willing to submit samples to rule themselves out.

Detectives urge anyone with information to call (608) 284-6900.

"We believe there are people out there that know what happened to Father Kunz," said Det. Mary Butler.
NBC15 (video)

There is a great deal of mystery surrounding Fr. Alfred Kunz.  He was a very traditional priest, friends with Fr. John Hardon.  It is said he was going to be breaking a incredibly scandalous report on misdeeds in the Archdiocese of Chicago shortly before his murder.  If blogging payed the bills I'd write up a story on more of the background.  Quite a bit can be found by searching online.


Anonymous said...

I really hope and pray that they finally get to the bottom of this.

Terry Nelson said...

I do too - I still think it would make a great film.